ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Michigan came away with a 34-27 win against Maryland, but it was a learning experience for quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who was playing in his first Big Ten opener as the team’s starter.
McCarthy won the quarterback battle after the second game of the season over last year’s starter, Cade McNamara, and helped lead Michigan to its fourth win of the season against the Terps. It didn’t come without some mistakes and challenges, though, that McCarthy says he knows he needs to improve.
“I’d probably say that it definitely wasn’t my best performance and I want some things back that went out there,” McCarthy said after the game. “But, I was happy with the way we were able to move the ball the times where we needed to respond. That was a good team out there, Maryland’s got a great offense, they got a great defense and I was just happy with the way we responded when some adversity creeped in.”
Adversity hit a few times in the game as McCarthy had two fumbles, both recovered by his teammates, and the Wolverines found themselves in a back-and-forth game with Maryland.
He finished the game completing 18 of 26 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t have any interceptions, but he admitted the timing was off with his receivers throughout the game.
“With the timing, I don’t think that’s an issue (for the receivers) at all. I take full responsibility for all those throws that I missed on,” McCarthy said. “My arm was feeling like 110% today (after dealing with soreness in the offseason) and it’s been awhile since it’s felt like that. Just being able to go through the practices this week and be able to adjust and dial back a little more is going to be huge.”
Michigan finished with 446 yards of offense, and despite some mistakes, still got the win. A big part of that victory was the run game from Blake Corum, who finished with 243 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. It was the first time a Michigan running back had over 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns since Karan Higdon did it in 2017.
Corum was the spark Michigan needed in the game and a big momentum play came in the first half on 4th-and-1 when Corum bounced a run outside and ran 33 yards for a touchdown that gave Michigan the lead going into halftime.
“That was only supposed to go for one or two yards, but coach got it in quick, J.J. snapped the ball quick and we caught them off guard,” Corum said. “Against a good Maryland team, like I said, Maryland’s defense is good, Maryland’s offense was good, it wasn’t like we were playing some scrub team.”
The Wolverines are 4-0, and now they have to travel to Iowa and try to get the job done on the road. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh made it a point to note to reporters after the game that they’ll have to answer the question of whether or not they can go on the road, play the first road game of the season and be successful.
But after this game, Harbaugh said he’ll take what they learned about the offense in this game and use it to prepare for their next test.
“You learn more as you go, right,” Harbaugh asked. “Every single game, every single test you learn more about your team and learn more about yourself as a player.”